Sterling Whitaker, Classic Hard Rock Examiner
- July 7, 2011
It's been a dozen years since Styx replaced founding member Dennis DeYoung with Lawrence Gowan, but the topic of a possible reunion is still hotly debated by the group's hardcore fans. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, guitarist Tommy Shaw dismissed the idea of ever playing with DeYoung again, saying, "We have a very negative effect on each other."
Styx was one of the most successful arena rock bands of the 1970s and early 1980s, releasing a string of multi-platinum albums including The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theatre. DeYoung and Shaw were the two primary vocalists and songwriters in the group, and their differing styles helped the band achieve much of its crossover success, but after DeYoung's ballad "Babe" reached #1 in 1979, the commercial dominance of his softer songs like "The Best of Times" and "Mr. Roboto" became a sticking point with the rest of the group.
"After that we made a lot of money and had a lot of success, but this united force started to drift apart," Shaw acknowledged. Styx disbanded in 1983 after the divisive tour for Kilroy Was Here.
The band reunited in 1996 for a spectacularly successful tour, but Shaw said it was still an unhappy experience. "We tried it in 1996 and we realized what was true in 1983 was only more true in 1996," he told writer Andy Greene. "We'd just gone our separate ways. Rather than having a positive effect on each other, we have a very negative effect on each other. You only live once and you should be happy."
Styx has kept a dizzying schedule of more than 100 concert dates per year since 1999, and is currently on a summer tour with progressive rock stalwarts Yes. DeYoung retains the right to perform under the billing "The Music of Styx." Shaw said that's how it's likely to remain.
"In retrospect, we weren't even happy working with each other in our heyday," he reflected. "We're just different people with different desires and different vision of how things should be.
"God, it was such an unhappy place. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We're crazy, but we're not insane."
That assessment might come as a shock to Dennis DeYoung. "I have nothing but the utmost respect for Tommy Shaw's musical ability. He and I were really good for each other," he said in an interview with Bill Murphy last December. "We made great music together. We contributed to each other in many ways. And I would be surprised if he wouldn't say the exact same thing."